Aethlon Medical announced today that the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a unit of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), has awarded a grant for studies in head and neck cancer that will be a collaborative project between Aethlon and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
Aethlon Medical notes the grant, entitled “Depleting exosomes to improve responses to immune therapy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma“ will profile the biomarkers of exosomes in patients with recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer and will explore the impact of clinical depletion of exosomes using Aethlon’s proprietary Hemopurifier device. Exosomes are nanosized particles that are released in large quantities from cancer cells and carry the complement of a tumor’s genetic and protein cargo, which endows them with the capacity to fuel cancer growth and immune suppression. The Hemopurifier is being advanced as a potential therapeutic device for oncology by virtue of its capacity to capture and remove exosomes from plasma.
The total value of the award is $3.5 million over five years for multi-institution studies that will be led by Drs. Theresa Whiteside at UPMC and Annette Marleau at Aethlon as Principal Investigators. The funds will be primarily allocated to UPMC and two other participating academic institutions that will apply their expertise in immuno-oncology to programs that could accelerate the clinical advancement of the Hemopurifier.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Whiteside, a leading researcher in the area of tumor-derived exosomes, and the multidisciplinary team that has been assembled to evaluate the effects of exosomes in head and neck cancer,” stated Timothy C. Rodell, M.D., CEO of Aethlon Medical. “Head and neck cancer continues to have a poor prognosis due to disease recurrence and the development of metastatic disease. We believe that the real value of this grant for Aethlon is that this work will provide insights into the potential clinical benefits of depleting circulating exosomes using the Hemopurifier for improving the responses of patients to the standard immunotherapy treatments.”
“We are appreciative of the funding from NIDCR for this investigation of the roles of exosomes in head and neck cancer,” stated Theresa Whiteside, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Professor of Pathology, Immunology and Otolaryngology at UPMC. “Exosomes have emerged as major contributors to tumor-associated immune suppression and as significant barriers to cancer therapies. The overarching objective of this work will be to advance therapeutic capabilities and novel exosome-based predictive tools for head and neck cancer.”